Known as “Coffaina” and coming in small 120 milligramme baggies, the product has been sold for €2 apiece at Berlin newsstands for the past month as an energy supplement.
But some people have worried that the product is dangerous because young people could easily overdose on it or that it could have illegal substances in it.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the product really is caffeine or has any banned ingredients. Test results should be available within a few weeks. If authorities determine it is safe, it can continue to be sold.
In extreme cases, an overdose on caffeine is possible, but that would take a massive dose of three to ten grammes, said Ursula Sellerberg, a pharmacist and spokeswoman for the Federal Union of German Associations of Pharmacists (ABDA).
“This is rare, however, because soon after oral ingestion of overdoses, vomiting occurs,” she said.
Sellerberg said the sale of a caffeine powder isn’t a problem unless it is being sold for medical purposes.
“Fatigue is not a disease,” she said, pointing out that caffeine tablets are already available at pharmacies.
Coffaina’s manufacturer, a 30-year-old Berliner who runs a company he calls 2Drinks, said he was surprised by all the controversy surrounding his product.
He said those who compare Coffaina to drugs “probably has something to do with drugs themselves.”
The man added that the powder is targeted at adults over 25 and is meant to be mixed into drinks like water or fruit juice to provide a burst of energy. His eventual goal is to expand into other large German cities.
“We have also explained to the kiosk vendors that this is not for children,” he said.